Boat and ATV owners, others seek rollback of E15 mandates on fuel

Regardless of which end of the political spectrum a person tends to favor, most will agree well-intentioned government regulations often produce unintended consequences. Another area of agreement can be it’s harder to get rid of a regulation than enact one. A third is that bureaucrats often come up with screwy ideas to make their regulations work.


So it is with the federal mandate to use ever higher amounts of ethanol in America’s gasoline supply. The law was meant to boost energy independence and promote growth in the ethanol industry. Gasoline use was going up at a steady rate in 2007 when the government set the new standards so complying with the new standard didn’t seem onerous.


But soon after the Renewable Fuel Standards were set OPEC’s schemes worked to skyrocket oil and fuel prices. High prices precipitated an unforeseen decline in gasoline consumption and increased the availability of fuel-efficient cars. Instead of America’s gasoline use ever-increasing, it leveled out. With less gas needed, less ethanol was needed, but the Renewable Fuel Standards required ever-higher ethanol production and incorporation into the fuel supply. The unforeseen consequence had occurred.


An easy fix would have been to roll back ethanol requirements to match America’s gasoline requirements. Bureaucrats, never shying from pounding square pegs into round holes, came up with an alternate solution: dilute the gasoline supply with 50-percent more alcohol. Instead of 10 percent ethanol in gasoline (E-10) being the standard, boost the mix to 85 percent gas/15 percent ethanol.


Easy enough, save the fact that even E-10 wreaked havoc in boats, other small-engine machines and older autos when it became available. Tests on E-15 showed it to be even worse, quickly ruining the newest outboards, the latest-model lawnmowers, motorcycles and other machines with small engines as well as autos and trucks built in the early 2000s and older.


The new administration ran on a plank of rolling back or eliminating federal regulations. It would make sense for the Renewable Fuel Standards’ ethanol mandate to be one of the first to go. Groups representing boaters, bikers, ATV enthusiasts and other affected users are bringing this to the attention of Congress and the executive branch. Grass roots support from ordinary citizens will be needed for common sense to prevail.

Categories: Michigan – Mike Schoonveld

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